For all the ruckus about Viduka and Kewell not being available for todays match against Venezuela, there are some teams still quietly going about their business without fanfare. I bet you weren’t aware that the Australia Cup is being held in Brisbane at the QEII and the first matches were played last night. The Aussie women known as the Matildas (rated 17th in the world) played New Zealand (rated 21), while China (rated 5th) played DPR Korea (7th).
The first game kicked off at 5.00pm and almost immediately Australia set up camp in New Zealands half. Both teams played a 4-4-2 formation, but the two wingbacks for Australia offered another attacking option wth frequent runs down the wing. The aussie were well organised at the back and also very fast which limited New Zealand’s chances on goal. The standout defender for me was number 5 – Rhian Davies. She was fast, smart and even when running down the sidelines to attack would track back and make a tackle on an attacking New Zealander.
In midfield the captain most certainly lived up to her number 10 with her skill, speed and determination. Joanne Peters seemed to be all over the field setting up plays, making sliding tackles and taking shots on goal. Whenever she got the ball she looked dangerous and her playing style reminded me a little of Frank Lampard. It seemed she could run forever, but was more than a grunt horse, she had the skills to go with it.
Throughout the match the most liveliest player of all was Lisa De Vanna (11). The forward was turning New Zealanders easily, shrugging off challengers and created the most chances on goal. It was one of the first times she has played for the Matildas and her hunger was evident. Unfortunately it meant that she was called off-side quite a few times. She will be a player for the future, as although she managed a lot of the hard work, most of her shots towards goal ended up in the keepers arm or over the bar. She had so many shots on goal the whole crowd was wishing she’d score, and when she finally did with a brilliant lone effort, the crowd went wild. However it was ruled offside. I can’t wait to see her in action again on Saturday against DPR Korea at 4.30pm. Hopefully the heat won’t effect the game.
Fittingly the goals came from the number 9 striker April Mann and number 7 Sarah Walsh. Both were in the first half, and although the NZ keeper got a hand to both of them, they were both too hot to handle. Australia could’ve had a lot more, but we spent a lot of time saying “tits” as that is what they should’ve had over the ball. It was a joke that started from Cherine telling us we had to have our tits over the ball so that our kicks didn’t go over the crossbar. From then on if anyone took a shot that was too powerful and went over the bar we would yell “tits”. The matildas need to learn that technique. 🙂
Australia deservedly won the match as New Zealand never offered much in the way of a goal, which was surprising to me as most of the NZ players appear to be playing in american colleges which have a great reputation for supporting women’s soccer. Perhaps the difference was that Australia seemed to play more as a team than NZ.
I stayed for the first half of the China vs DPR Korea game and was an embarrassed Australian when “technical difficulties” meant that the Korean national anthem couldn’t be played. This was AFTER we had stood up to hear it play. The Koreans have never been to Australia before and it must have seemed very rude to them. The whole crowd went “oh” when it was announced, and from then on it seemed like the crowd were going to support the Koreans.
China played a 4-5-1 formation which meant that there wasn’t much goal action happening down their end – they were primarily all about defense. Defense was what they needed with the numerous raids Korea made on Chinas goal and the power of these womens shots were unbelievable!! If I could kick half as well as them I would be happy. Korea always looked the likeliest to win, and about 42mins in to the game they got their goal, however it was an own goal from one of the Chinese via a mis-kick. She did not look pleased after. I am not sure what the final result was as I had to leave, but I can’t wait to see the Korea vs Australia game based on what I saw last night.
The next matches are:
Saturday 21 February
New Zealand vs China 2.00pm
Australia vs DPR Korea 4.30 pm
Tuesday 24 February
DPR Korea vs New Zealand 5.00pm
Australia vs China 7.30pm
I know I enjoyed these games so much I’m going again! Pictures are in the gallery.